Busted in Ski Country

Last week I wrote about narrowly dodging a bullet in Ontario’s ski country.  Well, the week before, I drove my daughter to visit a friend who’d moved to Western New York. I narrowly dodged one there too, but bullets are less metaphorical in America.

The I-90 crosses the state from Buffalo to Albany. It’s the only toll road in New York, the change attendants will proudly tell you. These attendants are at every entrance and exit to ensure maximum stingage. They give you a card upon entering the highway. When you exit, they charge you for the distance. These cards are timed — so the authorities could, conceivably, charge you for speeding if you arrived at an exit earlier than would be legally possible. Between this slight possibility and the sheer boredom of the drive, I decided to cut through ski country and retrieve the aforementioned daughter from Rochester.

Don’t believe all you hear about Western New York. True, the economy’s been depressed for decades, but ski country, which starts around 30 miles south of Buffalo and continues east all the way past the Finger Lakes, is achingly picturesque. The hilly, curvy roads are fun and the towns are daintily pickled in time. Overcome by the quality of roads and quantity of topography, I indulged in the thrill of the drive! Mistake.

Do believe all you hear regarding the diligence of the police here. In one pretty village, from seemingly nowhere, a black and white appeared in my mirror — his lights blazing. It felt like a Bruce Springsteen song – except that I had a kid with me instead of a little tramp on a last chance power drive, and instead of a Mercury ’49, we were in an ’04 Escape. I pulled over, a stone forming in my stomach as I watched him walk towards me in the rearview. His weapon wasn’t drawn, but neither was he smiling.

Lowering the window, I was devastatingly polite and contrite. I observed him observing me. He noted my kid, buckled seatbelt, Ontario license plate, insurance and ownership and — miracle of miracles — he let me off with a minor infraction while emphasizing that he could do far worse. I groveled with base gratitude and carefully drove beneath the limit the rest of the day, continuing to enjoy the view.

As they used to say years ago on HNIC: Happy Motoring, Canada.

Image courtesy of Runs With Scissors on flickr (stream NSFW)

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